Climate Change Debate Begins

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on energy and environment began hearings this week to draft an energy/climate-change bill to be introduced by Congressmen Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Ed Markey (D-MA). The bill’s goal is to reduce global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 83% below 2005 levels by 2050, through a cap-and-trade system. The bill also establishes a renewable energy mandate that requires 25% of U.S. power be generated from renewable sources by 2025. Chairman Waxman’s goal is to have the bill pass the committee vote by Memorial Day.

Corn Belt Could Face Loss from Global Warming — A study by Environment America estimates that global warming could cost the U.S. economy $1.4 billion/year in lost corn production. The study was based on government and university data that projects warming temperatures will reduce yields of the nation’s corn crop by 3% in the Midwest and South, compared to projected yields without further global warming.

60% of Consumers Ignore Food Product Recalls — A Rutgers University Food Policy Institute study shows many Americans failed to check their homes for recalled food products. The study notes approximately 60% of Americans reported ever having looked for recalled food products in their homes. Nearly 75% of those surveyed said they would like to receive personalized information about recalls on their receipt at the grocery store. Over 60% said they would like information by a letter or an e-mail. Only 10% said they have found a recalled food product in their homes.

Comment Period Open for E15 — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will be seeking public comments for 30 days on whether to allow for a blend level of up to 15% ethanol in gasoline. Earlier this year, Growth Energy petitioned EPA asking the agency to raise the blend of ethanol. EPA has 270 days to act on the petition.

White House Office of Rural Policy — Members of the Congressional Rural Caucus sent President Barack Obama a letter urging him to establish a White House Office of Rural Policy. The members said, “The unique policy matters faced in rural America include, but are not limited to, specific concerns regarding agriculture, conservation, economic development, education, health care, information technology and transportation infrastructure, among others. We are sure your administration would benefit from an office devoted to the effect of federal regulations on rural Americans and our communities.” The caucus is co-chaired by Congressmen Travis Childers (D-MS) and Adrian Smith (R-NE).

Economic Impact of Cooperatives — USDA recently released a comprehensive study and database, “Research on the Economic Impact of Cooperatives,” showing that more than 29,284 American cooperatives generate revenues of over $654 billion and employ more than two million workers. Cooperatives reported $133 billion in income and payment of $75 billion in wages.

Cattle Material Not Hazardous Waste — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that “cattle material prohibited in animal feed” is non-hazardous solid waste and can be disposed of in landfills. This issue has been a concern of the packer and rendering industries.

USDA Nominations — The White House recently announced more USDA nominations, including Kevin W. Concannon as under secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services and Rajiv J. Shah, M.D., as under secretary and chief scientist at Research, Education and Economics (REE). Concannon has served as director of health and human service agencies in Iowa, Maine and Oregon. Shah currently serves as director of the Agricultural Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

P. Scott Shearer
Vice President
Bockorny Group
Washington, D.C.